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Local leaders should take charge of justice reform

Driving criminal justice devolution

A new report from Crest Advisory, being supported by Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens, states it is down to local leaders to demonstrate that they can deliver justice improvements.

Constant and growing pressures in the justice system are taking their toll. Recent increases in recorded violence and prolific offending, combined with ongoing austerity are impacting on the ability of our courts, prisons and probation services to keep communities safe.

Crest Advisory was commissioned by the Hadley Trust to explore how justice devolution could address some of these challenges. The report demonstrates the case for a shifting of power and money from central Government to the local level, while setting out some of the practical ways in which Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) can use the power of their mandate to drive improvements locally.  Read the report here.

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “Crest have produced a really insightful report into Reducing Reoffending in Avon and Somerset. The analysis has helped identify a number of key issues and made some really helpful suggestions to take forward solutions. We feel this report has given us an excellent platform to have a real impact on reducing reoffending working collaboratively with MoJ and other partners.”

Crest Advisory’s report, Driving Criminal Justice Devolution, sets out the learning from nine months of work with four PCCs. Harvey Redgrave, author of the report, and Crest’s Managing Director, said: “After five different Secretaries of State at the Ministry of Justice in three years and Whitehall consumed by Brexit, the onus for driving change within our justice system is increasingly falling on locally elected Police and Crime Commissioners. Ultimately, it is at the local level where the most powerful incentives and levers for making communities safer are to be found.

“Our research points to a number of practical ways in which Police and Crime Commissioners could use their democratic mandate to bring services together to drive improvements, and ultimately, to cut crime. It is now time for the government to make good on the original vision behind Police and Crime Commissioners and give them the powers and the tools to deliver the ‘and Crime’ part of their job description on behalf of the communities which elected them.”

  • The recommendations made for driving devolution in the areas Crest worked with include:
  • The local Reducing Reoffending Board  in Avon and Somersetto both design and commission probation services to address the increase in the number of prolific offenders when the overall numbers of people in custody is falling.
  • A co-designed and co-commissioned approach to mental health services in Devon and Cornwallto address the large numbers of offenders with multiple/complex needs not currently receiving any form of intervention.
  • New resettlement services for women offenders in Northumbriato provide more flexible sentencing options for a relatively small number of female offenders which have seen      largeincrease in those being sentenced to short custodial sentences.
  • Negotiation of a devolved youth custody budget for North Yorkshireto enable local commissioning of prison places for the small number of prolific young offenders as well as increasing the use of intensive community orders for women and young adults.

The report identifies five conditions for change to drive devolution forwards;

1. Knowing what you want to achieve – the wider strategic objectives

2. Knowing the local criminal justice picture – and what needs to change

3. Knowing who is in the system: focus on people rather than structures, particularly the repeat offenders who drive demand

4. Democratic accountability and robust governance

5. Getting local buy-in for change

Posted on Thursday 22nd March 2018
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